Played by NCG: StranraerAugust 27, 2018 Courses and Travel
The Dumfries and Galloway course is known as Braid’s last – and the old master went out with a bang
Reason for a Stranraer Golf Club review
I was on a family holiday in Dumfries & Galloway and, having managed to fit the clubs in the boot, made the drive from Garlieston for a round.
Where is Stranraer Golf Club?
Stranraer Golf Club is in Wigtownshire and it’s fairly straightforward to find. Just follow the A75 all the way up to the port town and the club is a couple of miles further on.
What to expect
This was the last course James Braid designed and it was opened in 1952 – although the club itself is much older. It’s loosely a parkland course but the trees tend to frame, rather than intimately hug, the layout.
With Loch Ryan playing a central role in several of the holes, parts have a linsky feel to it. That was only accentuated when I visited as the hot summer had browned the course beautifully and the ball was running miles after landing.
A relatively gentle par 4 opener only lulls you into a false sense of security as the course starts to get very challenging from the third.
But it’s not overtly difficult. If you respect Braid’s vision, and try to work out what the great architect intended, then hitting good shots into the right areas will be rewarded.
The 14th is the only par 5 on the course and it’s one of the centrepieces of a really strong back 9.
You can run out of room from the tee on the sharp dogleg, and you can also be distracted by the glorious views of the Loch on your left, but the approach to a small green quickly grabs your attention.
There are just three par 3s and, of those, it only feels like you can really take aim at the 12th. The 15th is the hardest of the lot, with a deep bunker and a sharp bank meaning getting close to the putting surface is absolutely paramount.
That’s the start of a really difficult run in with 16 and 17 both lengthy par 4s of more than 450 yards and usually playing into the prevailing wind. It doesn’t matter what you have done before, your score is only really determined in the last hour of play.
Favourite hole at Stranraer Golf Club
You’d expect me to say the 5th, which looks down from an elevated tee with the glorious Loch in full view.
Corunna, as it is named, is a spectacular hole and you do wonder if it is possible to hit the fairway. But when you belt a drive into the middle, it is a very satisfying feeling and this is clearly a very strong contender for one of Scotland’s great holes.
But the short par 3 that follows, The Wig, is a classic Braid short hole and just a sheer delight to play.
It may be only 160 yards off the whites but finding the small green, which slopes sharply off both sides, is by no means a cinch. I love some of the deep sculpted bunkers that mark Braid’s work and there are six of the blighters guarding the front and right hand side of the green.
I managed to hit the green and it was one of the highlights of the day.
My best bit
The drive at the 3rd is fairly intimidating to say the least with a stream and quite a lot of trees there to catch your eye and tempt a big slice. So it was a great feeling to commit to one and thread it right into the centre of the fairway.
What to look for
If you get a nice day, as I did, try to look further on the 5th than just the Loch and you should see Ailsa Craig out in the Irish Sea.
When I go back
I’ll try to make better use of some superbly conditioned greens that were even paced, true and deserved better than some of my less than perfect strokes.